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Looking back at 2020 – with gratitude and thanks

Amar Tumballi

2020 has not been a year we would have been able to predict. With a worldwide pandemic and lives thrown out of gear, as we head into 2021, we are thankful that our community and project continued to receive new developers, users and make small gains. For that and a lot of other things we are thankful.

I thought that it would be appropriate to take a moment – to pause – and reflect on the positives within our project community. As we slowly navigate through these anxiety-filled times, small items of happiness are important. For me, personally, the Gluster Project community has been that shining light of hope. Now, I understand that I have a biased perspective! After all, it isn’t that long ago when I had audacious dreams of a software-defined storage project and look how far we have come. I’d like you to join me in a round of thanks – to a few individuals and to all of us – who have been able to continue to contribute to the project, make it better and keep the focus on gains.

We started early with the changes to objectionable language in the codebase. Ravishankar led the effort to get this done across the codebase, and we anticipate before the end of 2020 we will have a cleaner codebase. Big shout out to the team on this one. Specially, Ravi, Kotresh, Aravinda and few others who helped.

The move to get the repository migrate to github was a long pending, and tedious task looking at the number of jobs which needed to be changed, tested and all that. Thanks to Michael Scherer, Deepshika on this one. Finally we have one place to look at all information. One of the good thing from this exercise was we added some 2500+ patches to the repository’s history which were missed during 2009 itself. Thanks to Csaba Henk for helping in preserving historic codebase from tla repos of savannah project.

In a recent Community Meeting Pranith had an observation which was both contextual and a guide for introspection. Discussing about the merits of doing impactful things, Pranith used the example of whether spending a lot of time in bringing about nano-second, micro-second gains in performance are truly valuable. Later in the week when I sat back and thought about his remarks, it seemed to me that we can draw some inspiration from that – on being able to conceive impactful changes and being planful about accomplishing them. I have to say that I still have the same thrill as I did in the early days when a new member of the community sends a note – whether it is a report around something that worked as expected or, a report about a bug/defect which we did not test well – all of these are encouraging. It continues to demonstrate that there exist a set of use cases and deployment sizes where Gluster continues to provide a great fit. We should focus on being able to excel in those and then see how we can gain new ground.

Throughout the year many people including Xavi, Mohit and Barak figured out important changes to make in core sub-systems, be it in better caching, or in rebalance and distribute layouts Or in brick-multiplexing. Adding to it, thanks to few core contributors changing their jobs, to understand the need of storage from the user’s perspective, we see more positive changes happening in community and its activities. Pranith, Ravi, Aravinda, Xavi and many others help people in our growing community in Slack channel. Now  has more than 330 members in it.

I have a deep appreciation for all the individuals who have been hosting the Community Meetings – it is a job that keeps getting done well and often does not receive the thanks it deserves. Nikhil, Sheetal, Shwetha, Saju, Srijan –  thank you for the leadership. Thanks to Yaniv Kaul for keep looking at code, and coming out with suggestions for small gains, which can help in getting many first time developers to get started in glusterfs codebase. Finally a big shout out to our active user-community,  and people like Strahil Nikolov and many others, who gets many critical questions answered for first time users, and admins alike!

We have thrived in these adverse times and we can look forward to new, innovative bits coming up in 2021. While as many experts says making storage as ‘boring’ as it can get, the changing usecases, calls for interesting innovations for sure. This is the time where n/w and disks are becoming faster, and taking themselves out of ‘bottleneck’ in the events of distributed system. With 100Gbps + network speed and NVMe disks which provide access similar to that of memory access, there is a huge challenge with us to make glusterfs faster than ever.  While our (glusterfs project) goal is to make a great distributed filesystem, we can’t ignore the new generation usecases like CSI / kubernetes etc, and there has been a constant ask in community about glusterfs project’s stand on it.  Also there has been asks about more participation requests from different regions, and we are happy to extend our help in doing so.

Stay safe, stay healthy and enjoy the time with your families and loved ones. I am absolutely delighted that we have a growing community and I commit to ensuring that we continue to be a friendly one. Do reach out!


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